tv Debate on Saul Alinsky CSPAN August 13, 2017 10:32am-11:18am EDT
>> we have books up at the front counter. thank you all. [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching booktv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors review we can. booktv television for serious readers. >> next from the annual libertarian conference freedom fest, a debate about the late author and community organizer saul alinsky the participants include author dinesh desousa, saul alinsky son david, and ralph benko president of the alinsky center. >> let me introduce the speakers. we have first dinesh desousa who is the author of a forthcoming
book "the big lie." he has produced and starred in hillary is america and obama's america. he has a 35 year career as a writer come skull and public intellectual, a foreign policy analyst in the reagan white house. we have ralph benko from the alinsky center. president of the alinsky center has been called by "washington post" magazine columnist the second most conservative man in the world for his widely recognized advocacy of the gold standard. then we have david alinsky, the son of saul alinsky at the chairman of the alinsky center, famed architect of a new kind of political strategy. so we will start with the resolution -- let me pull it up -- resolved with saul alinsky the famous community organizer with the revolution, was revolutionary neo-marxist and many of america's problems today can be traced to the destructive legacy of saul alinsky, obama, hillary and the democratic party.
we will start with dinesh desousa. ten minutes for the resolution. >> best. [applause] thank you very much. always fun to be back at freedom fest, and today i have my work cut out for me pick at the very awkward topic for me to be debating because we are debating the alinsky center legacy and writer on the podium is the son of a linsky. also that of the a linsky foundation so i like i'm debating the legacy of don corleone he and here is michael corleone up on the stage as well as the chief of the corleone family. it's a little bit awkward about to try to get over that one. the first glance it seems a very difficult debate to people who
are so intimately familiar with alinsky. what can i also know that let's say is own son would not know? i think if you look very much example of the godfather itself you realize that very powerful people can have one public life and a completely different private life. the don, for example, was himself a family man, a very devoted to his wife, very straightlaced in matters of sex, very devoted to his children and so my point is that being the sun does give it a sort of privileged position, but you also not going to see a man as a relates to the world. going to see the man as relates to you pick and it's quite possible that alinsky was a lovely family man, a devoted father while at the same time in public life being kind of a gangster and a crook.
now, my case on alinsky really relies on three links in a chain. and to defeat the case you have to break one or more of those links. the first link in the chain is somebody to say that common experience tells us that the democratic party today is completely different from the democratic party of say 50 years ago. in other words, the democratic party today is not the party of, let's say, harry truman or john f. kennedy or even jimmy carter. the democratic party today is the party of obama and hillary, to a lesser degree the party of bernie sanders and elizabeth warren. it's a different kind of party and something or someone made it that way.
now, that's the first link in the chain. the second link is tempted to say what are the distinguishing features of this new democratic party? the old democratic party seem to be a patriotic party generally committed to the same goes for most of us in this room, but the difference was over the means. what to do with american prosperity, for example, how to share it works or yes america should be strong in the world but is it better for america to be more or less interventionist? these with the base about means but agreeing on the ends. anthe new democratic party i wod say is characterized by three new features here first, a kind of rather systematic deployment of lawlessness in public policy. so for example, the immigration laws say one thing but obama does another thing. the defense of marriage act does one thing but he does another thing. obama innocence literally sees
himself as above the law. the law as a tool. the second feature is a willingness to use the power of the state against your opponent. in other words, we live in a time where even the post office, the bureau of land management,, all these places have swat teams. and so the first time i think the state democratic party uses the power of the government, of the irs, of the epa to not only enforce its will, but to bludgeon its opponents into submission. you get on the wrong side of these guys they think nothing of sending the tax audit people after you. this is the new democratic party. and the third feature is enriching yourself by shaking down private corporations and the government. obama and hillary are both sort of global specialist at this. they figure out how to use leverage to public power to innocence rent or sell public policy, and i also figure out
how to enrich themselves enormously in the process. obama was a community organizer but you won't find him around any poor people these days. he is hobnobbing with the billionaire sets. bill and hillary in washington, d.c.,, and despite having government jobs all their career, they have a net worth of $300 million. even saul alinsky died interestingly and tellingly enough in carmel by the sea. a community organizer who live by the beach. you may say died to the sounds of the waves. now, this is the new democratic party. how did it get that way? i think the simple answer is it got that way not entirely but largely through the influence of one man, saul alinsky, and the influence the exercise individually over obama and over hillary. so another key link in my chain is that hillary and obama were
both at a formative time in life shaped from alinsky. obama never knew the men. alinsky dotted with a 1932 but obama going back to chicago. why? to study under the alinsky center he became an instructor so i suggesting that he learned his scamming techniques from the trend way and ran -- alinsky way. hillary met alinsky in high school, had a close relationship with alinsky. writing to wellesley college where she was a student, was later offered a job by alinsky and so both obama and hillary i think i.t. time of life imbibed you might say the alinsky kool-aid. i want to talk a little bit about that alinsky coolly to see if it is recognizably the fourth, destructive force i was a behind the america we live in now. most people think to figure out alinsky yet to go read the rules
for radicals because gee, there's the dedication to lucifer in one of the opening pages, and that tells you all you need to know. i think the book tells you relatively little about alinsky. first of all the dedication itself is highly problematic. alinsky was an atheist. probably like a good many of you in this room. he didn't believe in god and naturally didn't believe in lucifer. so why does a guy who does not believe in god or lucifer dedicated book to the guy he doesn't believe in? clearly this is not about alinsky say i want to the devil. clearly something else is going on. remember alinsky itself embraces machiavelli and one of machiavelli keys piece of advice is not to play your full hand up front. so you can be fairly safe in assuming that the alinsky book is not going to be the full and
true window into alinsky project to look someplace else. normally we would have no place to look but happily towards the right end of his life alinsky gave a series of interviews. this was in 1971, 1972, really including in the year he died. one was to playboy magazine, very a very detailed energy and another one was to harpers magazine i believe. in any case in these interviews alinsky basically said stuff that it never appeared in public or print before and they give you a real window into alinsky. the first thing he says is that from a very young age i tried to figure out how i could get stuff for free without having to work for. he describes with great relish abscam that he developed of university of chicago for eating and dining halls without paying. and not only, and no macau would be like i pulled off the scam, a very clever guy.
alinsky, and receive the alinsky methods kicking them right here, is he said i began to hold seminars around the university to instruct other students in how they could eat without paying for it. in other words, i think this was the birth of committee organizing in the united states. alinsky then graduates from school piggy goes on to college picky studies criminology. very interestingly he then gets in with a series of gangs, an ad italian gang that he talks about, and then more senator lee the al capone gang. and he is interesting because he talked about his interactions with the gang pic at one point, for example, the capone .4 to bring in an assassin from out-of-state to kill people and alinsky far from objecting to the killing objects to the high price of bringing in an out-of-state assassin. he tells the capone guys, why don't we hire one of the local guys?
they will do it for less. alinsky then tells playboy in the interview, he says come he goes i really admired the way in which these gang members could shake and people and extract money and stuff out of them. the only downside is that every now and then they got shot. they got knocked off. so alinsky goes, it got me thinking about how i could pull off a similar scam without the risk of getting knocked off. then alinsky relies the crime is actually very similar to politics. and so alinsky realized, and again i'm not divulging alinsky's private thoughts. alinsky says a lot of the things that i apply to community organizing i learned from the mafia. that is not a direct quote but it's a paraphrase of a direct quote. essentially alinsky took the mafia shakedown tactics, which is essential of against the
wall, payout or we will get you, and brought them into politics. and here we have really the beginnings of obama-ism and hillary-ism. want to give a simple example of how this kind of thing works, and that is since were talking about it, obamacare. many people think obamacare was obama colluding with the american people against the insurance companies. that's the public face of it. it's a very treachery scampered let's pretend i'm on the side of the people fighting for the little guy against the big bad insurance companies. in reality something completely different is going on. obama is meeting behind closed doors with the same insurance companies and basically using threats and incentives to bring him over to support obamacare. the threats are obvious. we will be taking over the health-care system and is going to look very bad for you if you
oppose it. the incentive is more cunning. obama says to the insurance companies, we're going to be forcing millions of americans according jen people, lots of people who don't want insurance, don't want to buy insurance, we are going to make them buy it. and that's hundreds and methods of dollars in profits for you. so you have a carrot, given economic incentive in backing my program, so here's my point. this was smoke and mirrors. obama is, in fact, in bed with the insurance companies, establishing government control over the economy come 16 of the economy while pretending to be on the site of the little guy. this was really alinsky's specialty. alinsky specialty was to indulge in the rhetoric of social justice while in fact, being about what he even talks but in his book ultimately for him it's about power. it's about power. in this country today there is a
great fight over whether or not the entrepreneur, the creator of wealth, the people who actually work and make stuff, should have the power? or should an outside group of self-anointed bureaucrats and experts who would declare themselves to be progressive on the side of history, this side of the future, do they get to kind of come in and take things over and to play wealth ultimately for their own gain? for their own private gain. this is the democratic party that we have now. frankly, if you don't like trump, this is how we got trump. the reason that we got trump is the democratic party became a party of ruthless alinskite. the republican party is a party of the spectacle gentleman. these gentlemen were constantly being thrown up against the wall defenseless against the
alinskite and finally people said we need to have all a bit of a big ball of obit of a guy who can throw you across the room on our side for a change. remember how defenses for mitt romney was about his wealth? trump has far more wealth but no one even criticize him for because you can't criticize him for because the more you criticize him about it, the more he boasts about having even more than you thought. so we are now in a alinskite or private. quite frankly i admire alinsky from a distance. he was a very scheming, clever man. he was an interesting man, and i think perhaps it is the action of history because he had no way of knowing at the time that is to protéges, barack obama and hillary clinton come both of whom seem to have virtually nothing going for them at the time.
in fact, had nothing going for them at the time, would actually become come reached the summit of power. but they did. that's what put the alinskite method into operation. and it's a big legacy, although i'm sorry to say, a destructive legacy. thank you very much. [applause] >> rolph, it's interesting because there's a little a litte inspiration in trump as well as hillary, but talk a little bit about why you think that's not the case that it started some dogmatic things about you marxism. >> hi, ralph benko. i wore my black cat just in case there's any dubiousness about how far right wing i am. my biggest problem with dinesh is he so far to my left, when i turn in his direction icy pink.
he certainly uses left-wing victimizing tactics in his shtick. the nash, shame on you. saul died in carmel by the sea where he was taking care of his ex-wife from whom he had a friendly divorce. not gaveling in the waves. he had a heart attack while he was there caring for her. but this is typical dinesh d'souza, congratulation of saul alinsky legacy. barack obama was 11 years old when saul alinsky die. they never met. i spoke to, i interviewed a friend of mine who took over the industrial foundation and the men toward barack obama for about two days or a week at a seminar if barack was mostly interested in out earning was raising a racially mixed family
because he himself came from a racially mixed family here but ultimately he turned away definitively from the alinsky message of community organizing to give power to the people against the government and the oligarchs, telling earning, i want to go into the system, want to become a powerful political figure, a judge or a lawyer. -- telling arnie. hillary clinton met saul alinsky two or three times, wrote her honors thesis about income turned down an opportunity to work with him because she said i think saul is magnificent but you can't take this to scale. i don't want to put pressure from the community on the government to carry out our will. i want to become a powerful central planner.
she explicitly in her thesis which by the way is brilliant, and i strongly recommend you go to the web and read it, turned away from saul alinsky. neither of them were saul alinsky acolytes. both of them turned away from saul alinsky. so dinesh kisses are trying to hang the corruption of the modern left in the democratic party on saul alinsky is just factually wrong. you got one thing absolutely right, and hope everybody who is paying attention. saul alinsky was all about power, taking power. people think they know saul alinsky, they saw the wiseguy lucifer epitaph, and by the way, lucifer according to martin luther and john calvin was not satan. in jewish theology, by the way,
dinesh, you are wrong. you made in this statement. saul alinsky was not an atheist. he was an agnostic and a jew to his dying day. you say these things. they are not factually based and you confuse people. the left, saul alinsky was one of us. he was a classical liberal in the british sense of john locke, adam smith, and the left has appropriated his identity and his work. which i will summarize with one paragraph from "rules for radicals" but don't be fooled by the excerpts of rules. don't be fooled by people who may or may not have read it but are circulating garbage. it's not dedicated to lucifer. it was dedicated to his beloved then wife, irene alinsky.
this was an epigram an epigram which david will talk about sandwiched in with an epigram from rabbi hill and thomas paine. david will talk about that. he never said that the inns justify the means. read the chapter. he asked explicitly, what inns justify what means? it's very nuanced. and what did saul alinsky really stand for, live for, spent his life dedicated to? he lived in open life, dinesh. there was no cover story in "rules for radicals." it was a summation of the way he lived which you could actually read about in let them call me rebel by sandy horwitz who raised it out chapter and verse. here's a man with no secrets. this is what he stands for. this is what i stand for, and this is what i pray you will use
your power to do. we learn when we respect the dignity of the people that they cannot be denied the elementary right to participate in the solutions to their own problems. self-respect arises only out of people who play an active role in solving their own crises, and who are not helpless, passive, puppet like recipients of private or public services. to give people help while denying that a significant part of the action contributes nothing to the development of the individual, in the deepest sense it is not giving but taking. taking their dignity.
denial of the opportunity to participate is a denial of human dignity. i yield the rest of my time to our chairman, david alinsky. [applause] >> first of all, can you all hear me? first of all, let me also stop for a moment and talk about the house of carmel, what's been made of this. that house was bought for my father for $35,000. $35,000. the house had what was known as a life to a declaw sonnet. for those of you who are attorneys, it means the owner,
the former owner has the right to live in that house as long as he or she shall either live or choose to. we bought that house with that idea in mind. my mother, jean, died in that house of multiple sclerosis. i'm sorry that i have to talk about this. there are a lot of things that were said today. i don't have the time to go into all of them, but i do want to talk about a few things. there are three basic myths about my father. first of all, let me also say that i am not here to tell you i'm using stories about our times around the dinner table or the times that our guests and friends.
i'm here to talk about the philosophy and the theory of my father. there are three basic myths about my father. the first is, the book is dedicated to lucifer. ralph touched on this. the fact of the matter is is that that page in the book, if you look at it, is called a front piece. there are three notations on that page. one by rabbi hillel who died in 110 d.c., a little while ago. the second is by thomas paine, and the third is by my father. he talks about lucifer.
all right, who was lucifer? historically, he's a metaphor for evil inclination. in hebrew it is -- [inaudible] that exist in every person. it tends them to do wrong. this is from genesis six coal and five a joy to look at it. the word satan comes from a hebrew word meaning to oppose our to obstruct her candy certainly intended to do that to oppose or to obstruct the establishment. the reference to lucifer is not about doing evil but rather opposing the accepted status quo of the half at the expense of others.
the third is that he was a communist, marxist, capitalist and god hating an archist whose sole mission was to destroy. he was a capitalist who believed it was only through self interest individuals achieved anyone. why work hard when in a communist system worker hard achieves nothing and it is only the party leaders who make out? everyone else were just slaves. anyway, he would say i could never be communist or socialist they don't have a sense of humor and that would be deadly.
he used to say he would never join any organization, not even his own. but that is not true. he was a jew. the organization he belonged to and supported was that of the jewish faith. he was a member and supported our neighborhood temple all of his years. i grew up in that temple. he would never have sent me to synagogue if he had been anything less.
there were a lot of things said today and i don't have time to go into the them but to say simply what he believed in, in the book, that is his soul speaking. i will tell you one thing, it is sitting in our apartment and he would work long into the night. he would struggle with each word and photograph to find the essence of what he believed and what he wanted to work for and what he did indicated his life for. he was a democrat. there is no question about that. he was a life long democrat. however, more than being a democrat he believed in the republic and the ability of
people to organize regardless of their community, party, regardless of their race, creed or color, to gain for themselves the individual and collective rights that our country provides. thank you. [applause] >> very heartfelt statements. we are running low on time so we will do a quick response by dinesh and maybe a closing statement followed by a brief two-minute closing statement by ralph and if david is willing.
>> alinksky was a complex man. i think it is interesting that virtually none of what i said in my opening statement has been challenged by either of you. they want to talk about when he was atheist or what not. he wasn't particularly religious. maybe he was merely an i don't know agnostic. fair enough. that is not the heart of the matter, though. the heart of the matter is is it true that alinksky really had this impact on obama and hillary hillary? mr. benko says you can't call his legacy destructive because he didn't have a legacy at all. i think that is not true. it is true that obama and hillary developed a serious shift from alinksky. if you will, they broke with
alinksky at the end. but they broke with him on one point and one point alone. essentially alinksky was an outside man. in that sense, my mafia analogy of controlling the street is apt. obama and hillary said wait a minute, we don't have to be outside threatening to bring the government to a halt, threatening to shutdown a corporation. what if we run the corporations? what if we run the governments? we can use the weapons of the state against our enemies. so yes, obama and hillary, you may say out-alinksky alinksky. they used state power in a way alinksky never dreamed was possible. that is the first point. now, with regard to whether or not alinksky was a leftist or a rightist, let's just put it this way.
once you start talking about the haves and the have nots and you create their health is accidental. something that rained like manna on their heads and they are trying to protect it. and the have nots are the victims of social misfortune who must organize and struggle to take from the haves we are now in a straight out marxist class division of society between the haves and have nots. let's remember the whole of the united states was invented as an alternative to this framework. the united states is based on the idea if you limit the size of the government you avoid the kind of oppression that was common and systematic in futile europe and you allow something
kind of new in the world which is wealth creation. people work hard, people come up with new ideas and patents and copyrights. people invent things and create wealth. am i have or have not? when i came to america with $500 in my pocket i was a have not. over time, through effort, by selling books, giving speeches, making movies i guess i am now a member of the haves. so is dinesh now an oppressor where as the old dinesh was an alinkskyite? this is the kind of shallow leftist way of dividing society, never asking the question was this wealth stolen or created in the first place. now to give alinksky credit, he was a very genius man and cfigured out ways to make his point which essentially put the republicans in a very bad light.
one time alinksky was approached by a group of leftists who wanted to protest the republican party by holding up bolsters saying the republican party is the part of the klu clan. the progressive eric stoner says for 30 years the klan was the domestic terrorist arm of the democratic party. alinksky knew this. but what advice did alinksky give to the young leftists? he said don't have posters. he said all of you come dressed as klans men and when the republican speaker begins to speak jump up and down and cheer so you created a media event that makes it sound like the klan loves the republicans.
here is a classic example of deception, historically uninvalid and a big lie. alinksky realized you could use the big lie to extract concessions. even when alinksky would protest against private companies he found out they are sponsoring a concert and say let's pay 500 guys to go into the theater and when the performance of clasicate music starts all of us will get calm and fart. why? to disrupt and destroy the performance performance. the company will be embarrassed and we don't even have to do the protest it. they will pay us off behind closed doors before the event takes place. in conclusion, if you see a thrown of brutally, intimidation, a smoking mirror
deceptive propaganda. we can see the nucleus of this in rules for radicals. alinksky didn't just do it. he was actually proud of it. thank you. [applause] >> dinesh, i didn't disspell your premise because life is not long enough to do to all of them in your statements. saul alinsky concealed carried a side arm because of death threats from the kkk. you continue to sport the message of saul alinsky when doesn't bother me. -- contort.
you are a house cat. you sit on a pillow and drink creel and consider alinksky like an alley cat. he had nothing against earnings. you are making all of this stuff up. read the book if you don't agree. i don't have enough minutes for this. i have one minute to tell you the number is 56. not for you. i checked the hands 42. what translated the declaration of independence from just one more document and rules for radicals is cut from the exact same classical liberal cloth as the declaration of indendance is 56 men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred
honor to the proposition that the creator has given us certain unalienable rights and it is the government's job to defend them. there must be hundreds of people in this room and thousands of people in freedom fest. there are people at freedom fest like mark and steven forbes who have pledged their lives and fortune and their sacred honor. we need more of you to stand up and not criticize the government but take power now. thank you very much. [applause] >> david, if you would like to make just a less than two minutes closing statement. >> that is a challenge in two minutes. what we are talking about here is means and ends.
like i said pfr -- before, we are all involved in power politics in way or the other. the question is if you are being oppressed from whatever reason or source what are your means of fighting back and what is the end you wish to attend? communities like in rochester or in the south side of chicago, in new york, in canada, what do they have? they didn't have the political power, they didn't have the money, they didn't have the police, they didn't have the laws. what did they have? they had themselves. so, you use what you have with what you have got. serious. we all know this. there are businesses and our
lives use what you have. you use what you have got. so, what did he have? he had people. so, you could send a couple hundred people to the rochester symphony orchestra or to o'hare airport in that famous story. was he working outside the system? yes, he was working outside the system. how could he work inside the system? they were not in the system. the system was oppressing the people and they had to find a way to fight back. means and ends. you use what you have with what you have got. it is as simple as that.
i will end with this quote from saul alinsky which hangs in my office. it is saul alinsky quoting thomas pane saying quote let them call me rebel, and welcome i feel no concern from it but i would suffer the misery of devils where i can make a whore of my soul. saul alinksky. thank you, everyone, for participating. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's television companies and is